Dragonheart (1996)

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

 

It's rare to come across such a touching fantasy for adults, blending humor and drama into a beautiful example of truly fine filmmaking, with a stellar cast, memorable soundtrack, and unexpected ending. DragonHeart is a tour de force; it's more than a fantasy, more than a story of friendship; it's a touching story of self sacrifice and the power of good over evil. With an incredible blend of special effects and animation it waves delicately a fine line between fact and fantasy that will make you leave your world behind if even for a few hours and believe the impossible.

  

Bowen (Dennis Quaid), a noble knight of the Old Creed, is mentor and teacher to young Prince Einon whom he hopes will be trained in the ways of the noble and not follow in his father's tyrannical footsteps. But the prince is forced into a position of responsibility sooner than they bargained for when his father is killed in a peasant revolt and Einon fatally impaled. Frantic, his mother, Queen Aislinn (Julie Christie) takes her son to the Dragon caves and seeks out one of the kind with a solid belief in the age-long agreement between the fire-breathers and humankind... to protect, honor, and aid them in times of trouble. She swears her son is not his father and will be a good and kind king. After Einon himself makes an oath to defend Einon's heart from evil, the Dragon shows them the wonders of an ancient glory... and bestows the prince with half of his heart, a life-force, a source of power and wisdom not to be treated lightly. 

  

The goodness in the Dragon's heart cannot quench the evil within Einon (David Thewis) and he proves to be a far more wicked king than even his father. Bowen, believing the Dragon to have poisoned the boy's soul, sets out to avenge what he has lost and takes up his sword to become a Dragon slayer, hoping to one day come across the beast in the caverns. Twelve years pass before Bowen's morals are challenged, once by a poetic Benedictine brother and second by a young peasant girl. A bitter, cynical Dragon slayer for money, Bowen lives in purposeful ignorance of the poverty and misery of Einon's people, having turned his back on the Old Code to seek his own revenge. Encountering the last living Dragon, Bowen finds this task far from an easy one as this creature is far more clever than anticipated, a great warrior with a collection of knights' skeletons to rival even Bowen's pile of Dragon's horns.

   

Equal in skill and cunning, neither is able to vanquish the other and come to a comic impasse... until they agree to join forces and receive equal benefits out of the bargain. But when their schemes are threatened, and both Bowen and Draco must face a ghost from the past... and ultimately choose the path between blindness and truth that will effect their lives forever. An incredible fantasy adventure filled with comedy and intrigue, memorable dialog and unforgettable special effects, DragonHeart is not only pleasing eye candy but also teaches important lessons about courage, morality, nobility and integrity as well as having symbolic instances of Christianity. Draco's sacrifice is not unlike the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross -- that sometimes the good must suffer to abolish evil. Bowen's change from self-centeredness to once again embracing the nobility of the Old Code is rather like the transformation when one gives their life into the hands of God after a long absence from their faith. Good and evil are very clearly defined -- each side equal in its shame or praise, and we learn that evil comes from within; it is not to be blamed upon the trials of someone else, but is a choice made in the heart. If nothing else, the film is fun to watch and has excellent dialogue wrought with wit, whether it be the comical hat that dons the forehead of a cynical, scheming landlord or the poetic ramblings of Brother Gilbert, who spouts a wonderful sonnet on impulse and then gaspingly wonders aloud what exactly he said.

  

Director Rob Cowin said he was looking forward to combining today's technology with a story of courage and integrity that families could watch together, which is precisely what he's done. The animation of Draco in particular is incredibly realistic and the voice of Sean Connery adds a depth to him that makes him lovable and perhaps even more endearing than the human cast! DragonHeart gives you everything from the magical to the touching, wrapped up in a pretty little package of adventure and honesty that leaves you with a good feeling... and in the meantime you've been taken on one heck of a ride! 

 

  

Sexual Content:

Einon intents to rape Kara but she resists; he kisses her once and leaves the room.

     

Language:

None noted.

  

Violence:

There are several lengthy war sequences (one at the beginning, another toward the end), some stabbings, soldiers shot with arrows (one man in the chest), and two uses of implied impaling, but the hint of violence is much more present than the actual sight. Brother Gilbert hesitates to use his extraordinary talents with a bow to actually kill anyone and fires only to save someone's life).

 

Other:

None.